Special -- The Blessed Ones
A Celebration for All Saints Day
All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1 or the first Sunday of November. The ancient church set aside such a festival day to remember martyrs and saints not honored on special days. Today, we often celebrate not only historic figures of the church, but the company of all those baptized who we have known and revered. By remembering those of the past, the church is inspired to live faithfully as Christ's disciples in the present.
In this service, the congregation remembers those who have died in years past during the "Thanksgiving Litany for the Blessed Ones." During the litany, members may name those remembered. As they state the names, they may also light a candle or pour water into the baptismal basin. Congregations may use all or portions of the liturgy suggested below.
Call to Worship
One: In Luke's gospel, Jesus called together the disciples and a great multitude to a level place.
There he touched, healed, and taught.
There he spoke, "Blessed are.."
There he named the blessed — the saints of the faith.
People: O God, call us together as you did those so long ago to discover your blessed people.
One: Today, in this place, Christ gather us.
People: Let us remember, confess, celebrate, and embody the blessed saints of God. Christ, come among us. Alleluia!
Hymn "For All the Saints" TNCH 299*
Confession and Assurance
People: God of our parents in faith, through the ages you called forth people — courageous, faithful, and steadfast. Forgive us when we disregard the witness of those who have gone before us. Our memories are dim. Our faith does not burn with a passion as that of those who offered their entire lives to you. Open us to the past and to the bold testimony to faith in our world today. Connect us to the great cloud of witnesses so we may proclaim Christ's justice and compassion in our own time.
One: God welcomes us, like a mother scooping up her lost children, like a father embracing his prodigal offspring. We are encouraged to learn from that forgiveness, to offer it to ourselves and others again and again. In Christ Jesus, you are forgiven.
Adapted from an assurance by Laura Loving in Book of Worship: United Church of Christ (New York: United Church of Christ, Office of Church Life and Leadership, 1986) 534. Used by permission.
Passing the Peace
(The congregation may greet each other with a sign of reconciliation and peace, such as a handshake or embrace and say these or similar words.)
One: The peace of Christ be with you.
People: And also with you.
Responsive Psalm Psalm 149 TNCH 722*
Readings for All Saints Day
Daniel 7:1–3, 15–18
Hymn "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit" TNCH 180*
Gospel Reading for All Saints Day
Thanksgiving Litany for the Blessed Ones
One: Jesus said: "Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the dominion of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Human One." Jesus named the blessed ones. On this day of remembrance, let us recall and give thanks for those blessed ones who have gone before us:
(Members may come forward and light a candle or pour water into the baptismal font. They simply say the name of the person who died or identify the person remembered by completing the following words.)
Blessed is [name] who [describe in a few words how they lived a faithful life].
One: Living God, we give you thanks for calling forth these blessed ones.
People: O God, keep them forever in your arms. May they stay
forever in our hearts. Because of their living, teach us to live
(During the time of offering, music or other artistic expressions of those who have died may be presented.)
Celebration of Holy Communion TNCH 16–20*
Hymn "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" TNCH 295*
One: May Christ, who makes saints of sinners, who has
transformed those we remember today, raise and strengthen you, that you
may transform the world. Amen.
From Celebrate God's Presence: A Book of Services for The United Church
of Canada (Etobicoke, Ontario: The United Church Publishing House, 2000)
216. Used by permission.
*TNCH refers to hymns or resources from The New Century Hymnal
(Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1995). Similar hymns or resources may be
found in additional hymnals.
This service was prepared by Sidney D. Fowler, Minister for Worship, Liturgy, and Spiritual Formation, with Local Church Ministries, a Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio.
For more information about worship and liturgy in the United Church of Christ, see www.ucc.org or contact Worship and Education Ministries Team, 700 Prospect Avenue East, Cleveland, Ohio, 44115-1100.
Copyright 2001 Worship and Education Ministries Team, Local Church Ministries, UCC, Cleveland. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved. Designed and printed by United Church Resources, Local Church Ministries.